Research In Motion (RIM) has been in the news recently, and not always for the best reasons of late, but with its hire of a new Chief Marketing Officer, maybe the former darling of the tech world can find new direction with regards to its flailing image.
The Canadian manufacturer of iconic BlackBerry devices and the newer PlayBook tablet just announced that Frank Boulben would be joining it as it’s new marketing guru. Boulben comes from broadband pioneer LightSquared, and has a wealth of industry experience.
He’ll have some serious work. With RIM’s stock prices teetering at historic lows and soft PlayBook sales, public perception could be stronger. Still, if anyone knows the value of a good fight, it is Boulben, whose last company famously grappled with the FCC.
With new platform flagship OS BB10 on the horizon, RIM has to figure out how to keep North American consumers who are used to being wowed (and wowed frequently) happy between now and when the devices hit the market. With Boulben at the head of its mindshare efforts, RIM will need to battle media and public darlings Apple and Google to sustain its peace of the mobile pie. This is no easy feat, as Microsoft inadvertently showed that throwing money at its marketshare problem doesn’t always work as quickly as one would want it to.
RIM will also have to continue to keep the enterprise folks happy. With BYOD gaining steam, and government agencies reportedly testing out competing mobile platforms, it is not as easy as it seems.
Or as easy as it was just five years ago.
Boulben’s and RIM’s biggest fight will be to clear up the perception of stodginess. Even current commercials seem to be misguided (check out this one that claims that the subject types a thousand emails a day on a BlackBerry — inferring that it cannot be done on a touchscreen. The ad seems to ignore strong indications that RIM’s next device will be an all-touch device).
There are quite a few BlackBerry fans out there. Hopefully, Mr Boulben can figure out a way to keep them in love with the brand, and make them bring their family and friends back to BlackBerry.
Will this move make a difference or is RIM going down in flames?